The 20th annual Growing Business Awards is fast-approaching, an event that celebrates fast growing businesses from across the UK. In preparation for the awards, Real Business recently held the Festival of Ideas for GBA alumni at the Brewery in London, a chance for them to network and share ideas.
The Festival consisted of panels of some of the GBA alumni, as well as some breakout sessions where attendees were invited to discuss topics that had been identified as challenges for growing businesses.
The first roundtable session was on talent spotting, and how to build a successful team for the future – you can read more about that here.
The second roundtable session of the day focused on the future of marketing – where should small businesses be placing their bets?
Here, we explore some of the ideas that were discussed on the day.
What exactly do we mean by “marketing”?
At its very base level, marketing is the promotion of a business’ goods and services. This can include paid advertising, but really it can anything from simply sending out a few tweets or handing out flyers. Most businesses will likely engage in some form of marketing, even if they don’t have a dedicated department.
It’s clear however that what it means to engage in marketing is changing – social media forms a big part of many marketing strategies now, and businesses are having to adapt.
For growth businesses, this is something to nail early on before you stretch your resources too thin.
First thing is first – who’s your audience?
Tackling B2B marketing
When you are marketing your products or services to other businesses, you may find you end up spending a lot of time and money on trade shows and exhibitons.
However, as one member of the Festival of Ideas audience put it, that very much focussed on education and awareness, and it’s always tempting to go for something with a more immediate return on investment.
It’s worth planning your strategy from day one, rather than coming up with a marketing plan on an as-and-when basis. For example, if you’re thinking of targeting overseas markets, the trade shows may be a good way to get boots on the ground.
It’s worth checking the Department of International Trade (DIT) website to see if they can help with this, as they organise a trade show programme every year on a sector basis.
Tackling B2C marketing
At the consumer end of the marketing spectrum, things look very different, and it becomes much more important to get your social media act together.
According to Conversocial, 32% of people find the phone to be the most frustrating communication channel for customer service. Just imagine – if you don’t answer the phone, the customer is left hanging around listening to elevator music.
By contrast, according to Convince and Convert, 63% of customers are satisfied with the response time on social media, and businesses answering a complaint can actually increase customer advocacy by as much as 25%.
Social media has real influence now – for example, the BBC reported this week that reality TV star Kylie Jenner earns around $1million (£760,000) per sponsored social post.
Whatever your target market looks like, ultimately it’s about making sure your message is on brand and that it demonstrates the value you can provide to customers.
One very important idea that came out of the discussion on the say was that you can’t really hack marketing. It boils down to this – you’re offering something, you need to communicate your value.
You can find out more about the awards here.